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Winderman: Wolves GM Kahn crossed Stern’s line in sand

May 18, 2011, 11:56 AM EDT


A few years back, amid one of those periods of inspection when it came to NBA officiating, the attempt was made during one of his NBA Finals media sessions to get David Stern to comment on greater access to referees.

The question began something along the lines of, “Considering there will always be those who see conspiracy . . .”

There never was a chance for the question to be completed.

Stern’s face tightened. Sweat appeared to bead above his brow. The temperature in the room rose considerably.

The point being that you can debate the quality of Stern’s product all you want. The commissioner gladly will engage in such discourse.

But never questioning the integrity of that product. There is zero tolerance there.

So amid Tuesday’s post-lottery comments from Timberwolves executive David Kahn, about how things fell so neatly into place for the post-LeBron Cavaliers in the random-but-weighted drawing for the top draft pick, expect more than a rebuke from Stern.

The commissioner can make men disappear if needed. This may be one of those times.

Foremost, since the Ewing-Knicks doubts in the lottery’s infancy, the league has been more transparent with the lottery than any other aspect of its operation. You may not be able to sit in a huddle with Tom Thibodeau (and the league still closely monitors what is broadcast on delay from such interaction caught on lapel microphones), and you might not be able to sit in a war room when the Cavaliers mull their draft options, but not only is media allowed into the lottery room, the league goes out of its way to make it clear that such monitoring is encouraged.

But this is about more than the lottery and the Timberwolves’ No. 2 pick consolation prize.

This has international implications. Don’t think for a moment that Ricky Rubio wasn’t notified immediately from his Spanish team management about Kahn’s latest gaffe. It certainly couldn’t have nudged the former Timberwolves first-round pick any closer to the balminess that is Minnesota in February.

Indeed, this well could be one of those by-the-time-you-read-this moments. It’s not as if the Timberwolves are on any defined path to success, as it is.

This was supposed to be when the Timberwolves were to mull the future of coach Kurt Rambis.

But Rambis at least carries a Lakers pedigree. That still means something. Even in Spain.

When an executive is great at what he does, you move past such moments.

When that executive in many ways still is in a probationary period, it makes a huge difference.

The lottery fixed? Not in David Stern’s world.

The Timberwolves’ situation about to be fixed? Don’t be surprised.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

  1. SmackSaw - May 18, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Wow, that’ll get Stern upset.

  2. sknut - May 18, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    “The commissioner can make men disappear if needed. This may be one of those times.” -How can T-Wolves fans help in this endeavor?

    • icu84bs - May 29, 2011 at 11:46 PM

      It is humorous comments like yours that keep me reading these silly forums. Thanks.

  3. frobaggins - May 18, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    ira..what are on earth are you talking about? i honestly don’t get the point you are trying to make. is this about crossing david stern or is it about t-wolves management in shambles? is it a combo of both?
    sometimes i feel like the articles written on here are aimed at hoping the subjects read this, not the public. its like you think david stern is gonna read this and say “that ira winderman seems swell and is on my side, i’ll be sure to be nice to him”

  4. jstrizzle - May 18, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Ugh people are making too much ado about nothing. He was bringing to light that it seems like the winner always seems to have a great story. He looked at Nick Gilbert standing next to him suffering from Neurofibromatosis and knew the luck would fall their way. I heard he leaned over to the Jazz’s owner and said we can’t beat this kid.

    Post Lottery comments from Kahn “…as much as people wanna over analyze it there isn’t much to it. It is pure luck of the draw so second pick of the draft is what we’ll be.”

  5. jstrizzle - May 18, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Basically people read recaps and didn’t actually see the interview. He made a joke. Local reporters break it down far better than anyone in the National Media

  6. shaggytoodle - May 18, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    I think they should show the number drawing.

    It would eliinate tons of questions.

    Show the number combos for the teams still in play for each pick

    Granted it would probably drag on and being boring at times, but no more than watching guys flip open and envelope.

  7. redsghost - May 18, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    hmmmmm a fixed lottery??
    1997 Lottery- The Celtics, who had the best odds for the overall pick (36 percent) as well as the league’s second-worst record, ended up with the third and sixth picks (not the 1st and 2nd but the 3rd and 6th!). San Antonio to this point wasn’t on the NBA map. With Tim Duncan, who mathematically was in Boston’s lap, changed all that to Stern’s glee- afterall, Boston has had enough NBA spot light, time to spread the NBA Market. ($$)
    2007 Lottery- Boston AGAIN had by far the best odds to land Ogden at number one, or Durant at number 2, but wait! The “Lottery” rewarded Boston not with the 1st (Ogden) or 2nd (Durant) but with the FIFTH selection!
    These are examples of only Boston’s selections being rigged. Willing to bet many other teams got rooked so Stern could spread the NBA wealth!
    Bottom line, with the 2007 betting scandal involving Tim Donaghy, the truth most likely is somewhere between his version and Stern’s. If you watched the game 7 last year of the NBA Finals between LA and Boston- Boston in the 4th qtr received 21 fouls- TWENTYONE! Of the approx. 1500 4th qtrs played (plus playoffs) and the YEARS most fouled 4th qtr was the very last of the season??!?? Yes, Boston shot badly in the 4th BUT most of those calls were phantom calls. The turning point in the 4th was the invisible foul that R.Allen got called for on (never would’ve guessed this) Kobe with 6 minutes left. INVISIBLE!!
    So, if the game is rigged (which for anyone with eyes of course it is) then claiming the Lottery is rigged isn’t a far stretch. This has been a huge reason why my watching of the NBA has decreased dramamaticly ! Fix the game and you’ll get your audience back, don’t and you won’t.

    • helinhater - May 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM

      Hahahahaha you must be one of those Boston folks who didn’t manage to get a college education from one of the 36 universities in that area…because you’re a f*cking moron.

      • helinhater - May 18, 2011 at 4:32 PM

        PS – The popularity of the NBA is at an all time high. I highly doubt David Stern cares what some schmuck from Boston thinks about the quality of the NBA’s product.

    • mchris1947 - May 18, 2011 at 7:34 PM

      So it’s only rigged when the Celtics drop in the lottery… Got it.
      Your notion of Stern “spreading the NBA wealth” by rigging the draft is of course absurd. His goal is to make as much money as possible. How the heck does sending Tim Duncan to play in the 37th largest media market in San Antonio make sense? Or “rigging it” to send Kevin Durant to play in Seattle (#12), and then letting the team move to OKC (#45 out of top 50 media markets). Lebron would never have ended up in Cleveland (#16) when he could have rigged it to send him to New York who ended up drafting 9th in 2003.

      If Stern were going to rig the draft lottery, every top pick would mysteriously go to the largest media market he could find, since that would enhance TV revenues, the bread and butter of all sports leagues in this country.

      Following the money will usually help weed out real conspiracies from just sour grapes.

      • redsghost - May 19, 2011 at 11:26 AM

        Two things right off the top- did you READ my post? Just curious cause I included other teams – “These are examples of only Boston’s selections being rigged. Willing to bet many other teams got rooked so Stern could spread the NBA wealth!”- Now, I’m a Boston fan and know of only Boston’s riggings, so No, it’s not just rigged cause Boston was the example.
        You contradict your own statement of – “Your notion of Stern “spreading the NBA wealth” by rigging the draft is of course absurd” (and btw, it’s not absurd, it’s quite the opposite as in spot on!) and THEN you go to say in the very next sentence- “His goal is to make as much money as possible” – BINGO! Spreading the wealth by rigging = goal of making as much money as possible. Thank you for supporting my arguement.
        The NBA would NOT be as profitable if the league only had teams in Boston, LA, NY, and Chicago, you agree? So, they must rig the lottery so popular players can go to the 37th largest market. Do you really think ONLY fans from San Antonio have ever bought a Tim Duncan jersey? Or that ONLY LA fans purchase a Kobe jersey? Which size market do you stop at? 17th? 21st? 24th? 37th? The NBA wants to hit ALL the markets if possible. You don’t think the NBA didn’t profit from Durant playing in Seattle and then moving to OKC? You don’t think that there are MANY fans still in Seattle who watch and follow their old team and purchase “new” OKC stuff? No extra jerseys, hats, cup etc were purchased? Or that the NBA didn’t profit from LeBron playing in BOTH Cleveland and Miami and whatever city he plays in next (cause you know he will to maximize HIS wealth, along with the NBA’s) ??
        So, NO, your arguement holds NO water. Stern WANTS the 37th market, Stern WANTS the 49th market and Stern WANTS the 2nd market, in other words, placing a number such as 9th or 37th in front of the word Market won’t and hasn’t precluded Stern from wanting to spread the NBA wealth to ALL the markets! Why the heck do you think there are so many teams? To reach ALL the markets, not just the 1st,2nd,3rd and 4th. This is why the teams talent has been diluted over the decades.
        Come back when you actually have an ,you know, arguement! Moron.

    • vnhorn - May 19, 2011 at 1:52 PM

      Funny, I thought you were an idiot when you didn’t know the difference between Greg Oden and whoever Ogden is. Then I verified it by looking at the drafts you mention.

      In 1997 Boston did have the best odds for the #1 pick because they had the 2nd worst record and another pick. That means you would expect them to have the #2 and the #6 pick (or in this case since Vancouver was ineligible, the #1 and #6). Certainly 3 and 6 isn’t as good as 1 and 6, but there is no way they should have had the #1 and #2 as you claim.

      In 2007, in addition to not only not knowing the name of the #1 pick, you are wrong about records again. Memphis had a much better chance of getting Durant/Oden than Boston did. Boston dropped a few spots, but you seem to be a fan that takes little things and they get bigger and bigger in your memory, until they grow into conspiracy.

      More likely case though, you’ve never actually followed basketball until Boston’s recent run of success, which would explain you not knowing anything from the past such as who Greg Oden is or anything beyond what people exaggerate in the bar…

  8. goforthanddie - May 18, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Stern doesn’t like questions of the league’s integrity, maybe he should make things less questionable.

  9. redsghost - May 18, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Exactly GoForth- My point is of ALL the four major sports, which of them comes under the most scrutiny for fixing the draft and the games? How come after 7 games of the World Series no one questions to outcome? Or the NFL (clarification- some might questions particular fouls, but not the draft, same as the NHL. It’s the NBA that is always under he microscope. But, as you say- run a clean sport and no one questions your integrity.

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